Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
by Staff Writers
York, UK (SPX) Apr 15, 2014
Symmetry is ubiquitous in the natural world. It occurs in gemstones and snowflakes and even in biology, an area typically associated with complexity and diversity. There are striking examples: the shapes of virus particles, such as those causing the common cold, are highly symmetrical and look like tiny footballs.
A research programme led by Reidun Twarock at the University of York, UK has developed new mathematical tools to better understand the implications of this high degree of symmetry in these systems.
The group pioneered a mathematical theory that reveals unprecedented insights into how different components of a virus, the protein container encapsulating the viral genome and the packaged genome within, mutually constrain each other's structures [Acta Cryst. (2013). A69, 140-150 doi:10.1107/S0108767312047150].
A paper recently published in Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances [Acta Cryst. (2014). A70, 162-167 doi: 10.1107/S2053273313034220] in collaboration with Pierre-Philippe Dechant from the University of Durham, UK shows that these mathematical tools apply more widely in the natural world and interestingly also account for the structures of Russian-doll-like arrangements of carbon cages known as carbon onions.
It was known previously that individual shells could be modeled using symmetry techniques, but the fact that the entire structure is collectively constrained by a single symmetry principle is a surprising new result.
Such insights are crucial for understanding how different components contribute collectively to function. In the case of viruses this work has resulted in a new understanding of the interplay of the viral genome and protein capsid in virus formation, which in turn has opened up novel opportunities for anti-viral intervention that are actively being explored.
Similarly, we expect that the work on carbon onions will provide a basis for a better understanding of the structural constraints on their overall organisation and formation, which in the future can be exploited in nanotechnology applications.
International Union of Crystallography
Carbon Worlds - where graphite, diamond, amorphous, fullerenes meet
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|